The price of smart speakers is approaching free. Walmart is promoting a Black Friday deal with a price of $29 for a Google Home Mini. That is a competitive price for an entry-level smart speaker and we have a couple examples of Amazon Echo Dot reaching that price point or slightly lower. However, Google and Walmart are also running a special that offers a $25 credit for orders through Google Express when you buy a new Google Home or Mini product. That means the actual price is only $4 for a new Google Home Mini if you redeem the shopping credit and order something through Google Express. The ad copy indicates a limit of six devices per person.
Google Express is a service similar to Amazon Prime but without an annual subscription fee. It enables you to order products from Walmart, Target, Costco, Fry’s Electronics, Giant grocery stores, The Home Depot and several dozen other national retailers. Shipping is free if the order exceeds $35.
Walmart is being similarly aggressive with pricing for the flagship Google Home product. It is discounted by $50 for Black Friday. That will bring the price down to $79 and only $54 when you account for the Google Express credit. It appears that JCPenney’s $50 discount on Google Home will also be eligible for the $25 Google Express credit. So, consumers that don’t mind trying out Google Express will have a number of options to substantially increase their savings beyond the Black Friday one-day pricing.
Google Gets an Aggressive Retail Partner
Amazon has been aggressive about discounting its Echo line of products to induce consumer purchase. That has helped the company maintain its market share above 75% even with an onslaught of new entrants in the smart speaker category. Google was at a distinct disadvantage last year when it only had the $129 Google Home and Amazon was selling Echo Dots for $35-$50. The price point simply made it easier for consumers to try out a smart speaker and worry less about buyer’s remorse. Google Home Mini puts Google in the same price category and aggressive retail tactics by Walmart and other partners may offer the company a nice market share boost in Q4 2017.
Sell Outs and More Multi-Voice Assistant Homes?
All of this discounting may also lead to sell-outs of products from Google and Amazon. That will be interesting considering that the Amazon Echo Dot was on back-order more than 10 days prior to Christmas in 2016. If that does occur, it will present some strong opportunities for Eufy, Sonos, JBL, Harman Kardon and other third-party manufacturers that embed Alexa or Google Assistant into their devices.
Another phenomena we are likely to see if more households with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled devices. Consumers have suggested they overwhelmingly intend to choose one brand for the household. However, we have seen that between 8-11% of households wind up with devices supporting different voice assistants. And, given the low price of Echo Dots and Google Home Mini’s they are falling into that stocking stuffer and company holiday gift sharing category. That could mean that many consumers wind up inadvertently having both a Google Home and Amazon Alexa product in their home. Then the real competition between the voice assistants will begin.